La Liga side Levante signed the Saudi version of Lionel Messi, but the player was nowhere to be seen during his new side's heroic actions of rescuing a 2-2 draw against Real Madrid. The Spanish league teamed up with Saudi Arabia in a rigorous scouting process that saw nine Saudi players transfer over to various La Liga sides.
The partnership between La Liga and Saudi Arabia dictates that none of the clubs will contribute towards wages or transfer fees for the nine Saudi players.
A report explained (via The Sun): “The arrival of Saudi footballers in Spain comes after a rigorous scouting process.
“Spanish clubs have worked for months to capture the player which best fits their team and improves their squad.”
Out of the nine players transferred over, the most notable of signings was Levante's capture of Fahad Al-Muwallad who joined from Saudi club Al-Ittihad. The eye-catching story behind this transfer was that Fahad - capped 40 times for Saudi Arabia - had been likened to Barcelona ace Lionel Messi by the Saudi media.
Fahad's first match was to come up against current La Liga champions Real Madrid, which would've been a great first test for the Saudi Messi. However, his dreams of brushing shoulders with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo were scuppered, as he was omitted from the Levante side that ended up coming from behind to rescue a 2-2 draw.
His omission from the match-day squad was also felt by Saudi fans, who felt begrudged by not being able to see their Saudi Messi in action. Here are a select few of tweets that highlight the fan's disappointment: